Schizophrenia is a complex biochemical brain disorder affects a person’s ability to determine what is reality and what is not. It is as though the brain sends perceptions along the wrong path, leading to the wrong conclusion. People with schizophrenia are affected by delusions (fixed false beliefs that can be terrifying to the person experiencing them), hallucinations (sensory experiences, such as hearing voices talking about them when there is no one there), social withdrawal and disturbed thinking.
In this section, you will find more information about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for schizophrenia.
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental health challenge that affects the way you understand and interact with the world around you.
At the beginning of an episode, people may feel that things around them seem different or strange. They may start to experience problems concentrating, thinking or communicating clearly, or taking part in their usual activities. At the height of the episode, people may experience breaks from reality called psychosis. These could be hallucinations (sensations, like voices, that aren’t real) and delusions (strong beliefs that aren’t true, like the belief that they have superpowers). Some people feel ‘flat’ or numb. They may also experience changes in mood, motivation, and the ability to complete tasks. After an episode, signs can continue for some time. People may feel restless, withdraw from others, or have a hard time concentrating.
The exact course and impact of schizophrenia is unique for each person. Some people only experience one episode in their lifetime while others experience many episodes. Some people experience periods of wellness between episodes while others may experience episodes that last a long time. Some people experience a psychotic episode without warning while others experience many early warning signs. No matter how someone experiences schizophrenia, researchers agree that early treatment can help reduce the impact of episodes in the future.
Who does it affect?
Schizophrenia can affect anyone. It usually starts to affect people in the teen years, though females often start to experience the illness a little later than males. No one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia or why it can affect people so differently. Genes, the way a person’s brain develops, and life events may all play a part.
What treatment is available?
While there is no cure for schizophrenia, people can and do recover. Recovery may mean learning to reduce the impact of problems, work around challenges, or maintain wellness. Most people use some combination of treatments and supports.